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5 Things To Know About Dietary Supplements for Eye Conditions

Many people turn to dietary supplements to try to prevent or slow the progression of eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, or cataracts. Here are 5 things you should know if you are considering taking dietary supplements for eye conditions:

  1. Findings from the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2) suggest that taking dietary supplements with antioxidant vitamins and zinc may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in people who have intermediate AMD and those who have late AMD in one eye. Ten-year follow-up data from AREDS2 show that supplements that include the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are more effective and safer than those that include beta-carotene. Studies of Ginkgo biloba and omega-3 fatty acids have not shown these dietary supplements to be beneficial for AMD.

  2. Current research does not support dietary supplementation with vitamins A, C, and E for glaucoma or the use of cannabinoids (substances from the cannabis [marijuana] plant) for the treatment of this disease. Early detection and conventional treatment of glaucoma are important.

  3. No dietary supplements have been recommended for the treatment of cataracts. However, some preliminary data have linked higher intakes of riboflavin and vitamin B12 to lower rates of two types of cataracts. There’s also some evidence that supplementation with the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce progression to cataract surgery in people who don’t get much lutein and zeaxanthin from food.

  4. Protect your eye health by getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam. These eye exams can check for many eye diseases early, when they’re easiest to treat. Learn more about eye exams and other steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy from the National Eye Institute.

  5. Follow your eye care professional’s instructions for treating eye conditions. Don’t use unproven approaches to replace conventional medical treatment.